Residents of resettlement apartments in Vietnam expressed their anxiety and disappointment in faulty and inadequately maintained elevators. In elevators online on Tuoi Tre News, several residents admitted to living in fear of the building’s elevators.
The residents reported that elevators have malfunctioned, causing injuries, leaving people trapped inside, or they have even fallen down the shaft when the elevator doors opened without an elevator present. Still others report becoming trapped between the doors. Residents worry about safety when elevators vibrate and make creaking, cracking noises when in use. (Mechanics point to problems with ball bearings that create the sound.)
Elevators are expected to function for 20 years in the apartments in Vietnam, but due to low quality or inadequate maintenance, they only work for a few years.
Elevators In Dangerous Condition
In the Den Lu apartment buildings in Hanoi’s Hoang Mai district, some elevators have rusty floors, ceilings and widening holes. One resident reported that elevators have no battery for backup should the electricity go out and that residents have been trapped inside for over an hour during blackouts.
Dang Thuy Hang, 42, a resident of Den Lu, said, “When it rains heavily, water leaks into the lifts. The water will overflow when it stops at a certain floor. We local residents dare not use it for fear of electric shock.”
Le Thi Dan, the head of Den Lu’s residential quarter, said that the building’s four lifts only worked well during their first two years of operation. “Recently, no mechanics have come to maintain the machines,” she said. “A person may be quickly clamped by the doors of a lift because it has a technical problem and runs too fast.”
Problems with Residential Elevators Widespread
These problems aren’t unique to the Den Lu residential buildings. Giang Van Phuc, 68, a resident in a Nhan Chinh resettlement apartment building, worries for his ill wife when elevators stop working. His wife is unable to use the stairs and has been stranded at home when the elevator isn’t running. Residents at Phuc’s apartment building have boycotted the elevators since a guard died in an elevator accident in June 2014.
The Hanoi Housing Management and Development Company is responsible for managing buildings for resettlement, including 204 elevators in the capital city. Thirty-three elevators are left unused. The defect that caused the June 2014 death of the guard was reported to the HHMDC, but was ignored. Nguyen Hong Thai, vice director of ThyssenKrupp Vietnam, said that each elevator needs technical maintenance every two months.
An official at the Hanoi Housing Management Company said the firm’s hands are tied. According to the official, repair and maintenance of the elevators must first be approved, then financed, by the People’s Committee of Hanoi before any action can be taken.
We hope that authorities in Vietnam will act soon. The residents in Hanoi deserve safe elevators and peace of mind.
Cash, Krugler and Fredericks began with a mission of service to our clients. Many of our clients come to us after traumatic events, seeking help for the life-altering changes they face in the future.
After Jacob Helvey sustained permanent and catastrophic brain damage in a preventable home elevator accident, his family turned to us for legal counsel. Jacob was injured by a defect that the elevator industry has been aware of for more than 80 years. Our first goal was to secure what the Helveys needed to care for their son. Our next goal was to prevent any other family from suffering as they did.
Meeting with Consumer Products Safety Commission
To that end, we traveled on our own in March 2014 to Washington, D.C., urging the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission to address the deadly defect in home elevators. In November of that year, we partnered with The Safety Institute to petition the CPSC to initiate mandatory rulemaking to set safety standards for residential elevators.
We are proud of our partnership with The Safety Institute. The organization’s mission is to address hazards and defects that are underserved by other advocates and their organizations. TSI believes that preventing injury and emphasizing product safety is one of the foundations of a healthy and productive society and an important means of reducing healthcare costs.
The team at The Safety Institute provides direct grants to organizations and individuals who are dedicated to examining evidence-based research, programs, evaluations and studies of product safety and injury prevention. TSI seeks out areas that other organizations don’t serve. Residential elevator accidents, while devastating, are rare. But the children and families impacted by these accidents deserve advocates as devoted as The Safety Institute.
We were proud to partner with The Safety Institute last year in our quest to make home elevators safer. We hope that in 2015, we’ll see the fruit of our labors in the form of safer home elevators.
-Andy Cash, Dave Krugler and Alwyn Fredericks
The Super Bowl is almost here. While most of America is stocking up on cold drinks and snacks to serve on the big night, the Seahawks and the Patriots are watching tapes and running drills. The pros have a job to do while the rest of us gear up for the Big Game.
Football is a rough game, much beloved by fans and players. Loyal football fans are ready to watch a close game, full of big hits and hard-fought downs. But we wonder if the anticipated hits will look a little different this year.
Concerns over head injuries sustained playing football have grown over the last decade. Years ago, a player who suffered a mild concussion might’ve been described as “having his bell rung” and sent back onto the field after a short break. Our fears for players and their safety has grown as our understanding of brain injuries and concussions increases.
Respected, retired NFL players’ high profile and heartbreaking suicides have been linked to brain damage stemming from concussions suffered during games. And the tragedy doesn’t just affect the pros; college ballplayers have suffered greatly, too.
Thousands of former NFL players came together to sue the league in a class action suit over injuries related to concussions. The two sides have yet to come to an agreement and continue to battle in court.
In the last few years, there’s been a push to make football a safer game. The NFL has compelling reasons to tackle the issue of concussions. Among them is the decline in participation rates in youth football across the nation. Football is fun, but is it worth you’re the potential injuries? It’s a question that parents and kids take seriously and an issue that has led kids to other sports.
So the NFL, along with Under Armor and GE, has given $500,000 grants to 20 researchers who are studying ways to cut down on concussions. Nineteen of the researchers are focusing their efforts on mechanics like tougher helmets, improved concussion metrics or softer turf. Only one researcher, Erik Swartz, a University of New Hampshire professor of kinesiology, is attempting to address concussions through changing behavior.
Swartz’s first idea? Ditch the helmet. It sounds like a dangerous and needlessly risky move, but it has a surprising impact. Football players often use their head like a weapon, smashing into opponents head on. That’s easy enough when you feel protected by a helmet. But as we’ve seen, a helmet isn’t protection against concussions. Swartz hopes that teaching safer tackling techniques will help reduce the incidence of concussions.
The impetus for Swartz’s plan came from his experiences playing rugby. Rugby is a brutal game and there’s little to no padding. Players tackle fiercely, but use techniques that (mostly) keep their heads out of harm’s way. Players are taught to get their heads to the side, out of the way, and to make contact with their shoulders, while wrapping their arms around their opponent to bring them down.
Swartz may be the only researcher testing rugby techniques in football, but he’s in good company. Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and his staff are teaching the same system of rugby tackling. Their attempts were applauded by Commissioner Roger Goodell, who said, “We are passionate about teaching this kind of tackling.”
The Super Bowl will put a spotlight on the Seahawks and their system. Here’s hoping it proves to be a safer one.
-Andy Cash, Dave Krugler and Alwyn Fredericks
An elevator near the Aswan High Dam in Egypt crashed last weekend, injuring eight people. The elevator is located in the Egyptian-Russian Friendship Monument near the dam.
The elevator in the 72-meter-tall monument stopped on the first floor. Workers tried to lower it manually and it then fell 30 meters. All the injured visitors were taken to a hospital for treatment.
An article in The Cairo Post reports that power had been cut to the elevator, which caused it to crash
Our brains are needy. They use one-fifth of our body’s total energy, more than any other organ. Twenty percent of the oxygen we take in goes straight to the brain. When our supply of oxygen is interrupted, brain function is disturbed immediately. It doesn’t take long for us to lose consciousness. After about four minutes without oxygen, brain damage begins.
Brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen is known as either anoxic or hypoxic brain injury. Hypoxic injuries occur when the brain is partially deprived of oxygen; anoxic injuries occur when the brain is completely deprived of oxygen.
Causes of anoxic injury include:
- Near drowning
- Cardiac arrest
- Complications of general anesthesia
Anoxic brain injuries can have similar effects to traumatic brain injuries though the way the brain is damaged differs greatly. Anoxic injuries can damage all parts of the brain. But certain areas are more vulnerable to damage when our oxygen supply is diminished or cut off.
Our brains need oxygen to transport glucose to brain cells. Glucose, otherwise known as blood sugar, is an important energy source. Every cell in our body needs glucose; we use it a “fuel.” Some cells require more energy than others. Brain cells need a lot of energy. The nerve cells of the brain have an incredibly high demand. Areas of the brain like the cerebral cortex, the hippocampus and the cerebellum are particularly sensitive to the lack of oxygen.
Unlike many traumatic brain injuries, where the victim’s brain may be able to heal, anoxic brain damage is irreparable.
Brain injuries can be devastating. We’ve dedicated ourselves to representing victims of traumatic and anoxic brain injury. Many victims require extensive, costly rehabilitation. Others, like Jacob Helvey, will require around-the-clock care as long as they live.
In response to receiving two reports of infants getting trapped between mattresses and end panels, Ikea is recalling 169,000 baby crib mattresses in North America.
Staying up to date about product recalls on your own is a challenge. Luckily, a number of organizations make it easy to follow product recalls. You can sign up for regular update emails from Safe Kids Worldwide, a group that’s dedicated to preventing injuries in kids. The Consumer Product Safety Commission provides email subscriptions for recalls and allows you report unsafe products.
As my partners and I well know, defective products can pose serious risks to consumers. We’ve fought large corporations on behalf of our clients who have been seriously injured by these products. These fights are never easy. Large companies and their insurers have a vested interest in mounting a strong defense even when the defect is practically indisputable. Despite the challenges, we’re dedicated to holding the companies that manufacture defective products accountable.
We’ve seen the damage defective products can cause, so we keep a sharp eye out for product recalls. There are new recalls every month. If you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to miss them. There’s one class of products that deserves special attention if you’re a parent. Products aimed at infants and young children are regularly recalled. When those products malfunction, the effects can be devastating.
About 100 children’s products are recalled every year, but parents generally only hear about three of those. The recalls are not widely publicized by the media. Some advocates also criticize manufacturers for not getting the message out to their consumers. It’s no wonder that only ten percent of the recalled products are fixed or returned.
Really young kids face unique dangers from products. For example, a crib, where almost every baby sleeps for hours each day. But choosing one can be frustrating. Since 2007, nine million cribs have been recalled. Safety issues vary from crib to crib, but the problem is usually the same: too much space between the crib rail and the mattress. This gap is dangerous because babies and toddlers can get trapped there, where they may suffocate or strangle. Another common reason for recall was the risk of the crib side detaching, leaving space for babies to fall out of the crib.
Parents of young kids and new babies are worriers. With experience, most worries fade over time. (By your the time your second child is born, you’re not usually worried about grandma washing her hands to her elbows before she holds the baby.) But some risks are worth staying alert to. Product recalls are one of them.
Stay up to date and stay safe!
A man in Bulgaria died after he attempted to enter an elevator on the 14th floor of a residential building. However, the elevator was on the 15th floor and he fell down the shaft to his death.
Reports are that the 70-year-old man used a screwdriver to open the elevator door on the 14th floor. Neighbors reported that he had done so repeatedly over the years, and would descend to a bridge in the shaft. The elevator had been properly serviced and maintained.
The Bulgaria State Agency for Metrology and Technical Surveillance and local law enforcement agencies are investigating the accident.
Earlier this month, we reported on the defective ET-Plus guardrail. Manufactured by Trinity Industries, these guardrails are on highways across the nation and here in Georgia. This dangerous guardrail is responsible for deaths and horrific injuries of more than 20 people. But shockingly, it’s not the only defective, dangerous guardrail on the highway.
More than 20 years ago, the federal government told states to remove breakaway cable terminals, or BCTs, from roadways. Like the ET-Plus, the blunt-end BCTs don’t always shear away from oncoming vehicles like they’re designed to do. Instead, they cut into cars, endangering the lives they were meant to protect.
In 1994, further purchase of BCTs was banned nationally. In 1998, the Federal Highway Administration went further, advising states to replace all the BCTs in use. The FHA didn’t demand that all BCTs be located and removed immediately. Instead, they allowed states to replace them gradually, during routine roadwork.
As of October 2014, more than 300 BCTs were in use on highways in Georgia.
When asked about the 16-year delay, Georgia Department of Transportation commissioner Keith Golden said, “You can’t go out and do it overnight. In the transportation world that’s not necessarily that long of a time.”
In the intervening years, though, at least two Georgians have lost their lives. Jacob Spradley crashed into a BCT in November 2013. The rail shot through the car and through Jacob and his passenger.
In April 2014, another young man, Paul Bohaczyk, died after hitting a malfunctioning BCT. The rail cut into the car, slicing his seatbelt as it did. Without the protection the guardrail was meant to provide, the car continued into a tree. Paul was thrown from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat where he died.
In October 2014, WSB investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer interviewed Keith Golden, questioning him about the deadly guardrails in our state. That investigation was the only reason GDOT became aware of the hundreds of dangerous guardrails that line major highways like I-75 and 285. To the Department of Transportation’s credit, two weeks after Golden’s WSB interview they promised to take action.
GDOT and Golden promised to send work crews out across the state to find the remaining BCTs. (The department keeps no records detailing which type of guardrail is in use or where. At least 300 have already been found; upon request, WSB’s investigative team provided their map of BCT locations to the GDOT.) The GDOT also promised to create a timeline for replacing the dangerous guardrails, with priority given based on traffic volume along the roads.
We hope that the replacements continue, and quickly, so that no more lives are lost.
Earlier this month, a study about Type 1 diabetics was published. It reminded me of why my wife and I are so dedicated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and their fight for a cure.
My boys strive every day, on their own and with our help, to keep their blood sugar in a normal, healthy range. But even the most dedicated diabetics will experience highs and lows daily. Non-diabetics blood sugar stays in the healthy range without trying – somewhere from 90 to 120.
Kids like my sons must check their blood sugar regularly to monitor lows, which must be treated by ingesting carbs. They also check for high blood sugar. Anything above 140 has negative effects on the body. Everything is affected from eyes to nerves to kidneys. The only way to treat a high blood sugar is with the right dose of insulin. Too little, and your blood sugar will stay high. Too much, and you run the risk of going low again.
In the 1990s a landmark study proved what many had believed: Type 1 diabetics that kept good control of their blood sugar shortly after diagnosis could usually avoid the unfortunate complications that high blood sugar causes over time.
Every Type 1 diabetic knows that strict control of their blood sugar is essential. The new study in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, is the first to show that intensive treatment and tight control prolongs the life of diabetics.
Unfortunately, another study published in the same issue of JAMA showed how difficult tight control is to achieve. Compared to the general population, average male diabetic life expectancy was reduced by 11 years and average female diabetic life expectancy reduced by 13 years.
My family and I will continue to support the cause of the JDRF. We’ll keep working towards not only a cure, but better access to education and advanced diabetic technologies. And hopefully, one day, we’ll have a cure for my kids and the kids and adults like them.
Note: You can read more about the study here.
Concussions, even mild concussions, are serious injuries in kids and adults. Concussions are a form of traumatic brain injury. For kids, standard aftercare includes taking a break from school, sports and lots of solitary rest at home. But how much rest do kids need? A new study has found that extended rest may not provide more benefit. The following is from an interview on Boise State Public Radio.
A group of researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin followed 88 kids with concussions, ages 11 to 22. Half of the patients were told to rest for one to two days; half were told to rest for five days. Asked about the groups’ assumptions prior to the study, lead researcher Dr. Danny Thomas said, “When we started the study, we really thought that rest would be better, and that’s why we thought to test more rest up front being helpful in improving concussion outcomes.”
To the surprise of the researchers, the kids who rested longer did not fare better than the kids who rested only one or two days. Neurocognitive outcomes and balance outcomes were the same in both groups 10 days post-concussion.
Further, the researchers found that kids who stayed home for five days complained of more physical symptoms in the first few days. As the rest days went on, the kids who stayed home longer reported more emotional symptoms like irritability and sadness.
Dr. Thomas and his team have posited several theories behind the increased symptoms. The researchers speculated that the mostly teenage group missed the social aspect of school or that the five-day group simply had more time to fill out their symptom diaries. Another possible reason? No distractions and more time to dwell on symptoms.
A doctor outside the study questioned if the patients told to stay home longer were in fact sicker and therefore had more to report. But researchers say the kids’ rest time was randomized. Dr. Thomas had another takeaway from the difference in the groups. “But in the end, that’s actually where I would say is the most important aspect, is that they didn’t really have a difference in their outcome. So five days of rest didn’t really make them better and actually delayed the time that it took to get them back to their school and back to the normal activities.”
If your child has a concussion or a suspected concussion, always seek medical attention promptly. A medical professional will be able to assess the injury and will counsel you on proper aftercare. Remember, even a mild brain injury can have serious effects. Always treat brain injuries with the respect they deserve.
Defective guardrails are killing and severely injuring people. And all because one company wanted to save $50,000.
In 2005, Trinity Industries, a company that manufactures and sells highway guardrails, had a lucrative contract with the United States government. Their guardrail, the ET-Plus, was purchased and installed on highways across the nation.
That same year, a company official at Trinity found a way to save the company about $50,000 annually. The savings came by modifying the ET-Plus, reducing a crucial piece of metal by one inch. That one inch change – which saved the company $2 a guardrail – is the likely cause of at least eight deaths. It is also responsible for more than a dozen life-altering injuries.
Guardrails can and do save lives, even in head-on collisions. The blunt end terminal is designed to absorb the energy from a crash without pushing the car back onto the roadway. As the blunt end is pushed, the sharp rail is deflected away from the car. The passengers are kept safe inside their vehicle.
The ET-Plus design defect means the rail occasionally fails to shear away from the car. Instead, the rail “locks up” and drives through the car. In several of these cases, the rail severed the limbs of drivers. Jay Traylor, a North Carolina man, lost part of both legs after a collision with a guardrail.
Trinity did not disclose the modification of the ET-Plus to the federal government when the change was made. They neglected to crash test the new design for safety. In October 2014, a jury in Texas found Trinity guilty of defrauding the government and ordered them to pay $175 million in damages. The company is appealing the case. If they lose, they will likely have to pay more than half a billion dollars in damages. (Statutory mandate is expected to triple the original amount.)
What a pittance $50,000 a year must seem now.
My partners and I are disgusted at the lack of regard for safety. The defective ET-Plus guardrails are in all 50 states and 60 countries. The Safety Institute, an organization we have partnered with in our fight to improve elevator safety, looked into guardrail safety. They recently released their final report on guardrail end terminals.
The Safety Institute study questions the safety of guardrail terminals. More research is needed, but initial findings show the ET-Plus guardrail is more likely to produce a severe injury or death than the ET-2000, the first crashworthy guardrail. (The ET-2000 is also manufactured by Trinity.)
The Safety Institute’s mission is to support evidence-based research with the aim of reducing injury and improving product safety. They will continue to support the study of guardrails.
My partners and I will continue our mission, assisting people who are injured by neglect of companies such as this.
A 12 year-old boy in Bradenton, Florida has died in yet another horrific home elevator accident.
According to officials, Maxwell E. Grablin was searching for his pet hamster in the home’s elevator shaft when the elevator descended. He was crushed and pronounced dead on the scene by emergency responders. His father, Patrick J. Grablin, was also in the home at the time of the accident.
We know this story too well. The heartache of the Grablins echoes the pain we’ve witnessed while serving clients like the Helveys and the Nelsons. Tragedies like this sadden our firm and strengthen our resolve to fight for safer home elevators. We’ll never quit. Our hearts are with the Grablins.
Nancy Husky, who lives in Maryville, TN, was taking her beloved dog Charlie on a walk when she got on an elevator in her apartment building. She thought Charlie was with her, but the doors shut on the leash and he was caught on the other side.
As the elevator rose, the dog was lifted off the floor. A resident tried the free the dog, but then the metal doors opened and he fell 30 feet down the elevator shaft.
An hour later, maintenance crews were able to rescue the Chihuahua mix. Thankfully, the small pup survived with just minor injuries.
To its credit, the Maryville Housing Authority is now looking to install sensors on all the elevators in its properties. If any item is detected in a door, it will halt any movement.
Please use caution when taking any pet on an elevator. Not all dogs will be so lucky.